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Since Scott Forstall’s ouster from Apple back in October of last year — and Jony Ive’s ascension into a much larger design role — we’ve had a feeling that iOS would change in a big way. The next version, iOS 7, could debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this June. For the first time, though, we have some news on what we might be able to expect from iOS 7 — news that comes courtesy of sources for Apple enthusiast blog 9 to 5 Mac.

Game Center for iOS, an app with heavy skeumorphic design elements.
Game Center for iOS, an app with heavy skeumorphic design elements.

If you aren’t a fan of the heavily skeumorphic design in iOS, you’re in good company. Ive apparently isn’t a fan either, and according to those who have either seen iOS 7 in action or have been involved in talks about it, much of the new operating system’s design will be “flat.” We believe this means the OS will sport a more clean and minimalist design, doing away with unnecessary flair and real-world textures.

Just a quick clarification: not all skeumorphic design is bad. In the strictest sense of the word, you could consider the layout of the buttons and the placement of the “LCD” screen in your iPhone’s Calculator app as skeumorphic. But, in some instances, translating the design of that real-world object to its digital counterpart isn’t a bad thing. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

That said, the Calculator app could do without its desire to look like the calculator that is sitting on your desk, just as the iOS Calendar app could do without the leather stitching and the Game Center app could do without the green felt look you might find on a poker table. There aren’t many operating systems that go to the extremes that iOS does in these cases, and while Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall might have been fans of this type of design, Jony Ive is not.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much Ive changes the look of iOS. The OS reportedly won’t undergo a huge transformation in the way users interact with it, but the look may be a bit jarring for those who have grown accustomed to it over the last 5 or 6 years. iOS 7, which is codenamed “Innsbruck” (the name of a city in Austria, in case you were wondering), could make its debut in about a month and a half at WWDC, though we probably shouldn’t expect it on iPhones and iPads until sometime this fall.

What do you think of the potential design changes for iOS? Are you excited for a flatter look or do you like things the way they are?


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